Our family has an annual holiday tradition. Each year we ride the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation’s Holiday Express train. It is a simple but enjoyable ride that gets all of us on a train at least once a year.
The Southern Pacific 4449 leads the first Holiday Express train of the day away from the Oaks Park Station. The trill of steam operation continues in Portland.
Our tradition doesn’t end with the ride and associated shopping trip at the tent. My daughter and I use Sunday’s on HE weekends to view the power and thrill of steam operations up close and personal. We head down to Oaks Park station and choose a variety of locations to watch the train. Our favorite by far is to stand between Oaks Park station and Spokane St. On this short segment the train leaves Oaks Park station and climbs a small grade up to Spokane St. On the cool and damp December mornings steam clouds hang in the air seemingly for minutes after the train passes. Even better the sounds of locomotive exhaust and whistle bounce off the hillsides around the Willamette River giving more than one chance to hear these fabulous machines.
Yesterday while we stood on the Springwater trail (the paved trail next to the fence) one passerby commented “There is nothing like the sound of a steam engine is there?”. I agreed. The fact we can experience one at least once a year in Portland is a real privilege. We are lucky to have the hard working volunteers who put in countless hours and contribute countless dollars to make these excursions happen. We are lucky to have Dick Samuels and the Oregon Pacific to make sure these locomotives have a well maintained place to operate right in town. And finally we are lucky to have the passengers who flock to the trains every year. We are lucky we have such a fabulous annual family tradition.